The housework fitness plan
We all know we need to exercise, but let's face it, as busy mums, finding the time to regularly go to the gym is almost as impossible as staying on top of the family's ironing pile! But don't despair! You can still fit your weekly workout in while doing the housework and running after the kids. We like to call it the Housework Fitness Plan and it's FREE! So read on...
Believe it or not, your everyday housework is a great opportunity to work your muscles and raise your heart rate.
Roll up your sleeves and get your house spic and span, while working up a sweat at the same time. Try these housework exercises:
- Vacuum squat-lunges: Rather than just merely running the vacuum cleaner over the carpet, do lunges while you push. Try holding these a moment before continuing to vacuum. Sure, your carpets may take a bit longer to clean, but your leg muscles will thank you for the workout.
Floor work out: Forget the mop and get on your hands and knees with a rag to work out those arm muscles.
Hot tip: For a real workout, let your toddler play horsie on your back while doing this exercise, or put your baby in a sling for added weight.
Washing-folding calf-lifts: As you fold clothes, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and balance on the balls of your feet. Lift your body up to your toes and back down again while you fold. This will strengthen your calves and help take your mind off the boringness of folding washing.
Hot tip: Carry your baby in a sling or backpack carrier for added weight. And when you're done with the washing, invite little ones to take a ride in the basket as a bonus weight-bearing exercise.
- Dishwashing thigh toner: While at the sink, stand up straight and lift your right leg out to the side, then lower it. Do this 10 to 12 times with the right leg, then repeat with the left leg. Try not to lean as you lift.
Instead of splurging the family budget on expensive workout equipment, use what's in your backyard and surrounds for free instead. Your child's swingset, or the local playground are great free workout centres! Try:
Swing lifts: Head out to the backyard swingset, or the local park, for a set of swing lifts.
This exercise works best with baby swings. Stand in front of your child as she sits in the swing (face to face). Rather than just pushing the swing and letting go, hold on to the swing and push your child as high as you can hold the swing above your head, then keep her there as she giggles wildly. Slowly bring her down to rub noses and then push her back up again.
Seesaw squats: This exercise is great for your thighs and triceps. With your child on the other end of the seesaw, squat facing the seesaw and place both hands on the front sides of the empty seat, thumbs on top, fingers underneath. Point your elbows out and then push the seesaw down and up, repeatedly. Keep your knees over your toes and your back straight to prevent back and knee strain.
Hot tip: If the seesaw is low and you feel confident with your balance, put one foot on the empty seat and push down and up to work your legs.
Monkey bar chin-ups: While your child is playing nearby, use the monkey bars to give your arms a good workout.
Hot tip: Try both overhand and underhand chin-ups for a full workout.
Slippery slide stairs challenge: With your kids close by, tackle the slippery slide steps for a good calf and leg workout. Climb the stairs up and down for at least 5 min at a time and then repeat.
Another great stair workout is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on the edge of the step facing the ascending steps, then position your toes on the edge, so your heels hang off. Lift and lower your weight up and down off the balls of your feet as you go from tiptoes to heels down.
Hot tip: Climb steps with your tiptoes to work your calves, or point your heels down to work the back of your legs.
Your own home offers an array of workout opportunities. Here's some examples:
- Climbing stairs: If you live in a split level or multi-storey home, you'll already get your daily workout just by rushing up and down stairs all day long!
- Gardening: Lugging bags of soil and potted plants, as well as raking, hoeing, and weeding work all sorts of muscles.
- Playing with your kids: Chasing runaway toddlers and playing in the backyard are fun ways to get fit. Enjoy a run-around at the park or sprint-walk relay races in your driveway. Pace changes like walk-run-walk work your body better than walking or running at a steady pace.
- Breastfeeding: Although not really a workout, breastfeeding is a great way to get in shape. On average, a nursing mum burns 500 fat calories a day producing milk for her baby. In fact, women tend to gain weight around the hips and thighs during pregnancy for fat storage for milk production.
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